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US Senate Democrat delays vote on Iran sanctions bill

A top US Democrat Senator announced Tuesday that he is temporarily withholding support for a draft bill imposing further sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program.

Democratic Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, co-sponsor of the legislation, said during a Senate panel hearing: "Many of my Democratic colleagues and I have sent a letter to the president telling him that we will not support passage of the Kirk-Menendez bill on the Senate floor until after March 24 and only if there is no political framework agreement."

Israel's channel 10 called the decision "a severe blow" to Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

who was reportedly relying on the proposed bill in his anticipated speech before the Congress next month.

Netanyahu is thought to have believed the bill was very popular among both the Democrats and the Republicans, despite US President Barack Obama's strong opposition.

Obama has expressed strong opposition to the imposition of new sanctions on Iran, and has threatened to veto it; however Democrats began recruiting members of the Senates to prevent Obama from vetoing the bill.

Israel's Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper said that Netanyahu's speech before the Congress has led to cracks between Democrats and Republicans.

Earlier this month, House Speaker Senator John Boehner invited Netanyahu to speak before a joint session of the Congress.

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